Ohio All-State football player, Matt Colella battled cancer as a middle school student. As a way to raise money for childhood cancer research while still in high school, Matt asked others to pledge a dollar amount for each point he made as his team’s kicker. The idea worked and Matt initially raised over $7,000.
Matt brought the idea with him to Kohl’s Professional Camps, the premier training program for football kickers, punters and long-snappers. The synergy was instant and with the support of Jamie Kohl, Kohl’s Kicking Camps founder and camp director, the Kick-It Champion program was born.
With every field goal and extra point, players have scored big for kids with childhood cancer—raising over $500,000 for research and inspiring athletes to take all the lessons they learn on the field, off the field.
We spoke with Jamie Kohl about Kohl’s Professional Camps and the impact of the Kick-It Champion’s program.
ALSF: When you have your camps, how do you get the players excited about being a Kick-It Champion?
JK: At our big camps, we start the session with a video about how Kick-It was started, how it has grown, how it impacts lives and how our athletes can partner with the organization to help fund childhood cancer research. A representative from Kick-It is always on site to share information, answer questions and meet the players and their families.
ALSF: What is the reaction when the players first hear about Kick-It Champions?
JK: Because we put an emphasis on the Kick-It program during the camp’s introduction, the players understand it is something at Kohls that we are passionate about supporting. They understand it is something that is important. They trust it is something that can make a difference. The athletes are excited about the opportunity to contribute by utilizing their skills that they are trying to master at our camp—kicking, punting, snapping—and use their skills to raise money for a great cause.
ALSF: Why is the Kick-It Champions program so important to you?
JK: I feel it is very, very important to use the platform that football gives you and to use the gifts you have to been given to contribute to society in a positive way. And sometimes it seems difficult to do that. Our players learn an important lesson that being a contributor is important. They learn not just to think about themselves. We are able to help them have a more worldly view about the importance of giving up their time to help others. Eventually, everybody in that room will need somebody to help them in their life. It is an important life lesson because football will only be there for a short time, and then they have to go out into the real world. If they can learn that life lesson through Kick-It, I think that is awesome. Making an impact on others can leave a much longer trail—and can continue for many years beyond their football playing career.
ALSF: How do you envision continuing to grow Kick-It Champions at camp?
JK: Our campers have done a heck of a job. We will continue to highlight Kick-It Champions at camp and help the players understand the power and impact they can have. Kick-It will continue to play an important role in our players’ lives whether they come back to Kohl’s or whether they stop playing football. Everyone can continue to support childhood cancer research. Cancer is something that affects us all. It is universal; it goes beyond all the divides in our nation. This is a good way to get young people started in making a difference and hopefully, they can continue to make a difference for kids with cancer and in their communities.
Let more about Kick-It and the Kick-It Champions program, powered by Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation here.